I'm off to Portland this weekend to speak at the Yard, Garden, and Patio show - Oregonian garden writer Kym Pokorny gives the show a glowing review on her blog.
If it warms up a bit (34 degrees here on lower Queen Anne this morning) and doesn't rain - both big if's for late February - I'll be posting photos of Portland's very urban Chinese garden, one of my favorite destinations. I also hope to spend time at the Elk Rock Gardens of the Bishop's Close, an elegant old garden along the river. Maybe the witch hazels are still in bloom - you can see a pictorial tour here.
Whidbey Island hosts a fine day-long master gardener workshop in March. You not only get to go to beautiful Coupeville, but spend the day learning practical gardening skills from some of the best gardeners around. You'll be close enough to Ebey's Landing to go for a hike after the lectures are over - Ebey's Landing must be one of the most beautiful places on earth - where else can you see snowy mountain peaks, expanses of salt water, ancient forts and farmhouses, and all that beautiful farmland stretched out below you? Here's the details of the workshop:
The Island County Master Gardeners' Whidbey Gardening Workshop, Saturday, March 14 in Coupeville. More than 50 gardening and nature-related classes offered by horticulture experts, veteran Master Gardeners and nursery professionals. Between classes, shop local vendors for interesting plants and garden-related wares, and peruse a variety of educational exhibits. Keynote speaker John Christianson, owner of Christianson's Skagit Valley Nursery, will open the day's events with a discussion of "A Nurseryman's Garden: The Constancy of Change."
Select the classes that interest you and register by March 10 at www.island.wsu.edu, or call 360-240-5527 to request a registration packet by mail. You have nothing to lose but the winter blahs!
And now a quick Q&A before I hit the road:
Question: What kind of mulch do you use on your garden? Mine is looking ratty and needs a thorough mulching. Should I use Cedar Grove compost? I could order a load delivered, but don't know what to ask for...thanks for any advice.
Answer: Cedar Grove is a fine choice, made locally. In late winter, when plants are starting their growth spurts and soil can be depleted by rain and the previous growing season, I always use a rich, dark brown feeding mulch. This makes the garden look tidy, shows off the fresh green emerging leaves of bulbs and perennials, and nourishes the plants. There's a big debate among people who know much more about this than I do as to whether chicken or steer manure is best for plants. I think applying one or the other is much better than nothing at all. This year I'm not getting a big load delivered, but buying bags of Whitney Farms, or another good organic brand, whenever I'm at a nursery, and spreading mulch in beds and planters over the coming month. This is my new incremental gardening approach, designed not to be too overwhelming or exhausting. Or anyway, that's the plan - good luck with your mulching, and the next few weeks is an optimum time to get it done.